It’s become a commonly used word in education over the past few years. Educators refer to a student’s ability to work through difficult situations as “having grit”. Sometimes, it is explained to students through demonstrations with sandpaper. Coarse grit gets rid of rough patches, while fine grit prepares the wood for staining or painting. All types of grit are needed to create a beautiful table or shelf, or to help a student learn a particularly difficult subject or topic.
Most of the time, we think about students only having grit in school.
Recently, Matt Larson and the rest of the #4OCFpln discussed grit in schools. Matt works in an inner-city charter school, and many of the students come from difficult home lives. He alluded to the fact that for some students, simply getting up and getting to school takes all the grit they have. They arrive at school and their piece of sandpaper, if you will, is already worn smooth. There’s no grit left.
This was a point of view I hadn’t thought of before. What do we do for the kids who have no grit left to use?
Give them a new piece of sandpaper.
Make sure they ate breakfast, and feed them if they are hungry.
Let them nap if they are tired.
Show empathy toward their life. Things that might not be a big deal to you could be a big deal to them.
Take time to teach social-emotional skills, no matter what age group you work with.
Just as a master carpenter can’t finish a piece of furniture with just one piece of sandpaper, students can’t finish the year, on occasion even the day, without somehow getting a new piece of sandpaper. And if they aren’t getting it from home, it’s our job as educators to provide one for them.